In late 2011 Peter Allestorfer and Manuel Koser launched Zando — a Rocket Internet-backed platform selling clothes and other fashion accessories online to South Africans. Today, it’s one of the country’s biggest ecommerce outfits, having also raised €20-million (US$26-million at the time) via international growth equity investor Summit Partners, as well as an undisclosed amount through JP Morgan.
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In January this year, Allestorfer and Koser, together with Ryan Marx (a former studio manager at Zando), launched Click n Compare — a deals comparison site for South Africans with high hopes of becoming one of South Africa’s leading independent ecommerce sites.
These self-proclaimed VC gurus, together with Paul Cook from Silvertree Capital as a shareholder, already have plans to expand the service to Kenya, Nigeria, and the UAE in the coming months.
Marx, who is company CEO, says that they saw a gap in the South African market for a product that allows consumers to navigate and gain access to things such as broadband, insurance, and financial services. Having said that, there are a bunch of competitors out there. These include Hippo, Wheretobank, Thinkmoney, JustMoney and Phonefinder.
All these sites, however, are very industry specific, whereas Click n Compare takes care of a large variety of different services like mobile, broadband, lifestyle and insurance. All these services are very relevant to SA’s LSM 7 to 10 sector (middle to higher income class).
“Our sheer variety and quality of categories and services that we offer sets us apart. No other comparison site in South Africa compares the same variety or the volume of categories as Click n Compare,” says Marx.
Notably, however, Click n Compare will also face-off with Naspers-owned PriceCheck, which covers everything from home appliances to flights and cellphones. It also partnered with MTN in June this year to expand its growing market in South Africa and abroad.
The company has so far received R1-million from Silvertree Capital, an Africa-focused business builder and VC fund, in exchange for equity. Silvertree Capital has been responsible for getting Nigerian ecommerce giant Jumia off the ground, as well as South African food app Vosto and online pharmaceutical service HealthCart.
Priding itself on transparency and independence, the business model is primarily a lead-gen model based quite heavily on the highly successful British counterpart, Moneysupermarket, whose founder Simon Nixon sold about 13% of the company’s shares worth £130-million. Comparative sites like Click n Compare usually rely on traffic arbitrage to earn affiliate commissions by sourcing them quality traffic. In other words, Click n Compare gets paid for driving users to client brands’ sites.
The company has recently also set up a call centre with consultants who’ll provide customers with information about the deals. “Our categories are constantly expanding and evolving, requiring a team of dedicated and skilled call centre agents who are definitely up to the task,” the company says.
Marx argues that “South Africans need a comparison site that will simplify the process of finding and buying services that can be daunting or complicated.” It’s also placing its bets on the site’s UI, hoping that its simple interface will make it stand out from the rest.
Looking a few years into the future, Click n Compare plans to have successfully penetrated the South African market, as well as making a firm impression across the African continent.
“We’re the site that you never knew you needed and that you certainly can’t live without because we make choosing the right service, package, or policy an absolute breeze,” says Marx. This has been one of its greatest challenges — gaining notoriety within the local market.
On the plus side, however, the greatest benefit of having saturated markets in South Africa is that it provides immense choice, argues Marx. “Click n Compare is able to place service providers next to each other and help consumers make informed choices,” he says.
Image by KristelPoole via Flickr